Two Days, One Night movie review

Featuring: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry, Baptiste Sornin
Screenwriters/Directors: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Movie Website:

2014-15 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Somerville: 5-11 Jan, 8pm
Joondalup Pines: 13-18 Jan, 8pm

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: A beautifully written, directed and performed piece of realist cinema, with Marion Cotillard exquisite in the lead role.

Great to kick off 2015 with a terrific film like this. Hopefully, it’s a forerunner of a bumper batch ahead.

The narrative is as simple and slight as they come: a young Belgian mother, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), having learnt that she has been laid off, spends the weekend visiting her co-workers to try to convince them to forgo their annual bonuses so that she can keep her job. Just out of hospital after a nervous breakdown and meek by nature, the task before her seems insurmountable, but with the constant encouragement of her husband she plugs on, calling on one person after another.

In terms of action, there is not much more to the film than Sandra traipsing from one home to another, and pleading her case. However, as Monday approaches and her support numbers edge closer to the crucial majority she needs, the dramatic tension builds, and you find yourself on the edge of your seat, willing her on.

The simplicity of the narrative places Sandra in the full and unrelenting glare of the spotlight. There is nowhere for Cotillard to hide, but she is flawless in her sensitive depiction of Sandra’s courageous battle to overcome the low self-esteem that makes her humiliating mission so daunting, and riveting in her charting of her fragile character’s inching progress. She compels us along on her emotional rollercoaster ride: the tiny growth spurts in Sandra’s confidence as she scores small victories are warming, inspirational, yet just when she dares to hope, another co-worker turns her down. Her pain and despair as she crumples is palpable, but her husband is always there to pick her up and somehow she resumes the fight, running on empty save for his enduring love and support.

While this is an unremarkable suburban setting, and the characters ordinary people living small lives, all the dualities of large-scale drama are present: heroism and villainy, loyalty and treachery, self-interest and altruism, courage and cowardice…and the rewards for the viewer, as for the lead character who finds the guts to fight the good fight to the bitter-sweet sting-in-the-tail end, are rich indeed.

Two Days, One Night is realist cinema at its best. No guns, no ultra-violence, no lurid sex, no CGI – just an entirely credible narrative underlying a beautifully written, directed and performed piece of cinema, with Cotillard simply exquisite in the lead role. What more do you want?

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5 thoughts on “Two Days, One Night movie review”

  1. This seems like an interesting movie but one of the three principles I live by is that I only go to see Marion Cotillard movies in which she shows her breasts. If you can confirm that she does indeed live up to my cinematic ideal, I will certainly pay money to watch this fillum.

  2. I’m not sure you’d pay money to see any fillum, OC. As you’re doubtless sweatily aware, all you need is available gratis right here on the web. With ideals like yours, you get to live in an ideal world!

    But to answer your question, I can confirm that the movie does not comprise merely head shots of Ms Cotillard.


    1. Dear Rolan, I’m in love with your company having just read reviews of five personal favourites, why, you could be my twin, even though I got a few decades on you. Deft, smart, living at the emotional heart of the film whether territorially vapid or fulsome. You write well, so, pleased to have met an imaginary friend n critic in art. My son is over there in Perth making three films, one with Simon Baker. I wanted to become a FB friend but was worried I was signing up with the wrong fella. PS I like Noah Baumbach’s stuff, Kenneth Lonergan two films are major, plus Nicole Holofcener (?). M/s Cotillard wonderful, Juliette Binoche, the actress in Incendies and The Source…

      1. Hi Andrew. It’s most gratifying to receive a comment like yours. I put so much time and effort into trying to express my assessments of movies as honestly, accurately and fairly as possible, and although I can see from the stats that people are reading, not many bother to comment, positively or negatively.

        I’m really chuffed that you get where I’m coming from in my reviews – “living at the emotional heart of the film whether territorially vapid or fulsome.” That’s it, exactly.

        I’d be surprised if you have a few decades on me. I’m 60, closing on 61, but lagging way behind that in terms of maturity other than physical (bit ahead of the curve there, unfortunately).

        I’m on FB under the name wickedwiz, although I’m not a big FB fan and don’t often post.

        All the best to you, comrade-in-cinema, and may I say it would be great to hear more from you on The Rap!

  3. But nothing gratuitous, I trust? The sight of Marion’s charms must be integral to the movie for unequivocal enjoyment.

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